5 Places to Have a National Park Wedding
Best National Park Wedding Venues
Let me guess...you love the outdoors, want to get married in a way that is stress-free, represents who you truly are and is actually fun? Maybe you've decided a big, traditional wedding isn't your thing and you want to elope and get married in a place you love- nature. So now you're looking for the best park to have a national park wedding at?
I've got you covered.
As an avid hiker, backpacker and adventurer I love exploring National Parks as often as I can. I'm also a national park wedding & elopement photographer and love helping couples find their spot to say their vows. I'd love to help you as well!
With 63 National Parks to choose from, it can be difficult to narrow down and decide which one is the best for you. So, I made a list of my *very favorite* places that I think would be the perfect spot for your national park wedding.
A few quick tips for choosing the best national park wedding venue:
Make a list of of what you what's most important to you for your elopement day and what you want to incorporate into your experience
Go into your brainstorming session with an open mind- you may be surprised with what areas you end up liking the best
Consider what type of scenery you want to explore and if a spot offers multiple different views
Think about any fun activities you may want to incorporate into your day. Certain things will be easier to accomplish in some areas than others.
Consider the time of year you want to elope in and what the weather will be like in different regions
1. North Cascades National Park (Washington)
The North Cascades (and Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest) is hands down one of my favorite places to explore in Washington. The beauty here quite literally takes your breath away and is a great spot to find stillness and peace. There are endless trails to hike and explore as well as many easily accessible spots.
Full of rugged mountain ranges, countless alpine lakes, beautiful forests, waterfalls, Mount Baker, and wildflowers- this is the perfect place for your national park wedding. Plus, it's one of the least visited parks in the U.S., making it a great spot for anyone seeking a little privacy!
Imagine driving up a remote, dirt road in the woods to one of the most incredible spots in the mountains. Right at the base of the trail is a lake, so you could kayak around for awhile and relax on the water before hiking up the short trail. The trail offers near continuous views of the mountain ranges in the area before coming to the top which offers 360 degree views. You could explore around, have a picnic, and find the spot where you wanted to say your vows. Then after getting married, you could watch the sunset before hiking back down (or you could spend the night up there!) and heading back to your cabin to celebrate!
2. Mount Rainier National Park (Washington)
Words honestly can't describe how jaw-droppingly beautiful and mesmerizing this mountain and area truly is. Another one of my favorite places, I never leave Mount Rainier National Park without a sense of awe and overwhelming happiness. It's a place that makes you feel so small, yet so complete. A perfect place to slow down and just be in nature...or a perfect place to start your marriage and life together.
Either way- I think it's a pretty magical place. I mean, what better place for a national park wedding, amirite?
Imagine starting your day in an A-frame cabin in the woods, sipping coffee and writing your vows together. You then drive up this incredible mountain pass before arriving at a trailhead to begin your elopement day adventure. Imagine hiking up this incredible trail, first through the trees, then with more continuous views of Mount Rainier and the surrounding mountains before reaching the top. Imagine setting up & relaxing in a hammock while listening to music and reading letters from your loved ones, exploring around and seeing how many different wildflowers you can see, admiring the view of Rainier & reflections in the small little pond before finding the perfect spot to say your vows. After getting married, you could have your first dance, watch the sunset, wait until the stars start to come out and when you're ready, hike down with headlamps before returning to your cabin for a delicious meal and a night by the fire.
3.Redwoods National Park (Northern California)
Home of the tallest trees on Earth, the Redwoods are one of the most enchanting areas of the country. Beautifully lush & green forests, impossibly tall and large red trees, rugged coasts, and wildlife all come together to create the perfect national park wedding venue.
Imagine riding horses through the redwoods...the trees towering over you with sunrays streaming through the branches creating a magical, almost fairytale like glow. Then imagine going to the nearby Oregon coast to find an intimate, tucked away spot for your ceremony where you could exchange private vows and get married before exploring the beach, watching the sunset and then stargazing!
4. Kenai Fjords National Park (Seward, Alaska)
Alaska is such a magical, magnetic, and mesmerizing place. The first time I ever visited, I was completely hooked- it's truly like nothing else in the world. Kenai Fjords National Park is no exception. Mountains, water, and stunning glaciers are so captivating & inspiring and I honestly can't think of a better place to say your vows and to have your national park wedding at.
Imagine kayaking in a glacial lagoon among awe-inspiring icebergs for the day...then for a break you explore the beach, have a picnic, and find a place to say your vows before taking a helicopter ride back into the small town where you're staying. You can enjoy a private delicious meal together, dance on the beach at sunset, watch the last drops of sunlight over the water & mountains before spending the evening by the campfire or in hot tub.
5. Arches National Park (Moab, Utah)
There's something so magical and wild about Arches National Park and Moab in general. It draws you in and makes you feel alive. It's a feeling that's hard to describe until you've experienced it for yourself, but it's a spot that will keep you coming back for more. (Which is why it's pretty much perfect for a national park wedding!).
Massively tall arches tower above you, contrasting with the surrounding greenery, are sure to take your breath away. There are so many beautiful arches to explore- both easily accessible and ones to hike to. Plus, the desert has hands down the BEST sunrises and sunsets in the world.
Note: Arches has a timed entry system for 2023 and currently the wedding special use permits are pretty restrictive. If you want to elope under an arch, there are many other arches around Moab or Utah in general that I'd love to help you find that may be a great fit for your elopement!
Imagine saying your vows under a huge, jaw-droppingly beautiful arch at sunrise, paddle boarding in the river during the day, and then off-roading (not in Arches) to a remote desert location to watch the sunset, have a picnic, dance or play a game, and spend time together.
Bonus: State Park Wedding Venues (& National Forests!)
National Parks aren't the only places that make great places to elope. In fact, some of my very favorite spots aren't actually in National Parks at all! They're in State Parks, National Forests, National Monuments, or on the Bureau of Land Management lands.
P.S. If you want to include your dog on your elopement day, most National Parks don't allow pets, so a National Forest or State Park may be the way to go.
While there's so many to choose from, here's just a few of my absolute favorite state park wedding venues that would be perfect for your elopement!
1. Dead Horse Point State Park (Moab, Utah)
Another one of my favorite spots in Moab, Dead Horse Point has impressive canyon views that stretch on for miles, you can explore all around the rocks, view the impressive views of the river below, and watch some pretty incredible sunrises & sunsets here. This is also very close to one of my very favorite spots to off-road to on an area managed by the Bureau of Land Management if you were up for some added adventure!
Imagine saying your vows here, with stunning canyon & desert views, with your very closest loved ones before exploring around and soaking it all in. Then imagine going to another area in Moab (there are SO many to choose from) for a more private adventure just the two of you for sunset!
2. Hatcher's Pass Management Area (Alaska)
Remember how great I said Alaska was? This is just one other area that is absolutely stunning and would be a great place for a state park wedding! Seemingly endless mountain ranges filled with jagged peaks, lakes, beautiful tundra, nearby glaciers, beautiful vies of the valley, wildflowers or dazzling fall colors depending on the season- Hatcher's Pass is a great elopement location.
Imagine taking a helicopter ride to a glacier & then riding on a dog sled in the middle of summer...then imagine landing on a different part of the glacier and exploring these out of this world blue glacier melt pools and finding the perfect spot to exchange private vows. Then imagine meeting up with your very closest loved ones for a short hike in the mountains for a ceremony with them, you can explore around some of the most beautiful mountains around. Then you can head back to your Airbnb for a private dinner with your loved ones and spend the night celebrating!
3. Coconino National Forest (Sedona, AZ)
Sedona, and by extension the Coconino National Forest, is another magical place in the desert. The stunning red rocks contrasted with the lush, green vegetation is so beautiful (especially at sunrise or sunset!). Plus there is so much to do! From hiking, easily accessible yet stunning locations, hot-air balloons, helicopter rides, off-roading, delicious food, and more- it has so many different experiences to offer.
Imagine riding in a hot air balloon at sunrise and seeing the desert from the sky to start off your elopement day before going back to your Airbnb for a relaxed, big breakfast together. Then imagine meeting up with your closest loved ones at a beautiful spot among the red rocks, saying your vows, watching the sunset, and celebrating with them for the rest of the night!
Other things to consider for your National Park wedding
Don't forget about your national park wedding permit! Nearly every single national park, national forest, state park, etc. requires you to apply for a special use permit to get married and have photos there. Please check the rules as each individual agency is different! I recommend applying early as many require ~4 weeks advance application. Permits typically cost $50-$200.
Research when the best time of year to visit your chosen destination is! Many people are surprised to hear when I tell them places like Mount Rainier or the North Cascades have snow & many trails are inaccessible in May, June and even early July in certain areas. I recommend being as prepared as possible before choosing a date.
Consider getting married on a weekday if you are seeking privacy! National Parks get a LOT of traffic on the weekends, so if you're flexible, a weekday gives you a higher probability of intimacy.
Choose a photographer that is familiar with your destination. I can't stress this one enough. Having someone who knows the area well, can help you with locations, backup locations if something goes wrong (especially last minute), permits, recommendations, knows weather patterns, knows how trafficked certain areas are, etc. is worth their weight in gold. Seriously.
Don't forget to Leave No Trace! The specifics of this may vary on what environment you're in, but these 7 principles are a great place to start! :)
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Need More Elopement Planning Inspo?
Start planning your elopement in Alaska with this Alaska Elopement Guide.
Still deciding if you should elope? Check out these Stories & Advice from Couples who Eloped to See What it's Really Like to Elope.
Hire a National Park Wedding Photographer for Your National Park Wedding
Hi! My name is Kathleen and I'm a National Park wedding and elopement photographer (and your new friend!) photographing elopements in Utah, Arizona, Alaska, and Washington. I'm here to help guide you to having the ultimate National Park wedding day experience, and to document every single moment of it. I would love to help you plan your elopement and answer any questions you may have! Learn more about me or my National Park Wedding Packages.
Get in touch with me and let's start planning your dream National Park wedding.